The word "overrated" - (Latin: Raules Mondesium) - has some obvious negative connotations, and it's common to assume "overrated player" is code for "bad player". That assumption can be very, very wrong, though. The Yankees are the kings of overrated players. Derek Jeter. Johnny Damon. Mike Mussina (v. 2.0). Bernie Williams. Carl Pavano. While the mythology behind these players can overstate their value, each one of those players has value. Heck, a lot of those players have a ridiculous amount of value. I certainly wouldn't kick them out of Brian Sabean's bed for eating crackers.
The Yankees have a silly amount of talent, regardless of how you perceive their players. Randy Johnson might be 42 -- though he doesn't look a day over ugly-four -- but he can still pitch, and there's no reason to expect him to stop this year. Alex Rodriguez is woefully underappreciated, and is still one of the top five players in the game. Mariano Rivera's success makes me wonder why there aren't more one-pitch success stories in bullpens, at least until I watch him pitch again. He's an amazingly unique talent, and it's hard to imagine someone comparable coming along any time soon.
Boston has a lot going for them, but I'm not as convinced. Josh Beckett could dominate, or he could break down. Knuckleballers and second-tier old-timers are a tough bunch to count on, which makes me nervous about the fortunes of Tim Wakefield and David Wells. I think there's a reason Mark Loretta was so inexpensive, and that makes the infield look that much weaker. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz can still knock the slobber out of the ball, and the Red Sox will have a good team. Good isn't likely to beat the Yankees, though.
The Blue Jays made a lot of noise in the offseason, but it was a case of "all hat, no cattle". Wait, that saying doesn't really fit for a Canadian team. All lakeside firs, no beavers? A.J. Burnett could link up with Roy Halladay for a one-two punch better than any in the league, or they both could completely break down. Improvements from Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios would go a long ways, and there's a good chance I'm not giving them enough credit. I can't get past the downside, which is a lineup filled with lowish-OBP guys, and a rotation with a questionable back end.
The Orioles would probably contend for the NL West, but will have a tough time with the unbalanced schedule in the East. Pegging the Rays for 98 losses completely undersells the amount of young talent they have, and contributions from Delmon Young and B.J. Upton could blow my prediction out of the water. With Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, and Rocco Baldelli, the Rays certainly have a better chance to surprise than a rudderless team like the Royals.
- Yankees, 92-70
- Red Sox, 88-74
- Blue Jays, 83-79
- Orioles, 72-90
- Devil Rays, 64-98
Times I'll actually care about the AL East - 2. (Maybe when J.T. Snow steals a base, or something)
You can take that one straight to your bookie.